The Toronto Raptors held their fourth pre-draft workout at BioSteel Centre on Thursday, with no media availability due to the Nick Nurse press conference down the road. As a reminder, the Raptors have no picks, so the names throughout this process might be a little underwhelming compared to the last few seasons and focused instead on 905/Summer League/future plans. For reference, ESPN’s Top 100 prospects list is our basis for the rankings that follow. Here are some quick notes on the names, as well as some non-draft news and notes below.
Here’s the full list of players who attended the workout:
|Zach Lofton||Guard||6-4||New Mexico Stat|
|Theo Pinson||Forward||6-6||North Carolina|
|Desi Rodriguez||Forward||6-6||Seton Hall|
|Jared Terrell||Guard||6-3||Rhode Island|
ESPN Rank: N/A
Dalton has turned a nice showing at the Portsmouth Invitational into a few draft workout invites, and he would seem to be a nice foil for some of the other, higher-ranked names in this workout. At 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, Dalton is a strong rebounder at the forward spot, can make plays attacking close-outs or on the move, and knocked down 40.3 percent of over six threes per-game this season. That’s a really nice mix of offensive skills with some decent positional size, though he’ll need to bulk up pretty significantly (he measured 192 pounds at Portsmouth). If he can add size to where he can hold up at power forward, there’s some interesting shooting and playmaking skill there, but he’s already 22 and may need to show his tools can translate to a G League or international environment before getting an extended look.
ESPN Rank: 78
Kentucky products come with a certain built-in expectation of pedigree, and Gabriel is no different – he was a five-star recruit – even having played a smaller role in his two seasons. As a sophomore, he took a big stride as a 3-point shooter, hitting 39.6 percent on nearly three threes per-game, and that’s a nice skill to pair with his ability to run the floor and his developing vision and awareness as a screener, roll-man, and passer. Factor in that he’s 6-foot-9 with a wingspan measuring 7 feet and that he should be a good enough rebounder to be a full-time power forward, there are a lot of pick-and-pop tools to like here. The questions come on the defensive end, where he graded more as solid than elite despite his athleticism and motor and was at times prone to racking up fouls. He has the size to be a multi-position defender, but he may not have the coordination. He’s also 21 already despite being a sophomore, but the Sudanese big man may also have some upside still to tap into given how much he came along in his second season. This seems like it would be a really nice 905 play, though he will probably at least get looks in the second round.
ESPN Rank: N/A
If you ever wanted to sell me on a player, “ultimate journeyman” is a good foot in the door. It’s hard not to root for the guys who take a circuitous path to their dream, and Lofton, who played at San Jacinto, Illinois State, Texas Southern, and New Mexico State during his college career, fits the bill better than most anyone. He’s been in college since 2012, so it’s perhaps a little weird to see a Dylan Ennis-esque 25-year-old here, but Lofton at least dominated as an over-ager, earning Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year as a junior at Texas Southern and being named First-Team All-WAC this year at NMSU (shouts to Pascal Siakam). It’s obviously hard to get a read on how numbers will translate from a situation like that, even though Lofton’s were robust – he scored 20.1 points per-game and knocked down 38 percent of a huge volume of threes this year. He only measured at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds at Portsmouth, too, and the 6-foot-7 wingspan might not be enough to claim real positionless play. Here’s hoping, though, because it would be cool to see Lofton’s story take the next step, whether that’s at Summer League or the G League.
ESPN Rank: 70
Pinson is the most interesting name here and becomes the highest-ranked player to work out for the Raptors outside of Kostas Antetokounmpo and, depending on who you ask, Dakota Mathias. A four-year senior out of UNC, we should have a good idea of who Pinson is – he’s a 6-foot-6 wing with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and some nice defensive chops who probably needs to find a way to start hitting threes to really stick on the NBA radar. There are a lot of other tools there if he can. He averaged over five assists per-game as a senior, saw a big spike in his scoring efficiency thanks in part to his ability to bully smaller guards in the post, is a strong rebounder from the wing or guard positions, and runs the floor really well. He’s also been reportedly having quite the productive summer. He’ll need that three to stick, but if it can fall with regularity, he has literally every other tool a 3-and-D prospect would need with his size, athleticism, ability to create turnovers, and secondary playmaking skills. I’m a fan, I just don’t know where he fits in the NBA if the three can’t become a semi-respectable weapon. (I actually feel very similarly to him as I felt about Norman Powell a few years back, for what it’s worth, though Pinson is a more well-rounded offensive prospect at this point. Pinson is probably my favorite of the prospects the Raptors have worked out.)
ESPN Rank: N/A
Another senior coming off of a strong Portsmouth showing, Rodriguez is looking to build on a really nice four-year career at Seton Hall that saw him take incremental steps in the size of his a role and then his efficiency within it. As a senior this year, he put up 17.5 points per-game while shooting just shy of 50 percent overall and 37.3 percent on threes. Over is college career, he hit 36 percent of nearly 400 3-point attempts, firmly establishing that as a potential NBA skill, and he can get his shot off the dribble from the top two levels. His playmaking from the wing maybe didn’t come along as you’d like to see, peaking at a 13.7-percent assist rate this year, but it’s a step in the right direction and he trimmed his turnover rate in each of his last two seasons as the assist rate rose. He probably hasn’t put his solid (not elite) athleticism and decent size together as a full defensive prospect yet, but he’s not bad on that end of the floor. He’s got some real pieces to build with, and he seems like he has a good head on his shoulders. The Spurs also worked him out, if some of you are still Spurs thirsty after the Ettore Messina chase.
ESPN Rank: N/A
You’ve gotta respect anybody who takes a shot from the logo and then stares down Reggie Miller with a smile. That kind of swag – and sticking it to Miller – are always going to be appreciated. It also speaks to Terrell’s confidence from NBA range, as he hit 41.4 percent on over five threes per-game as a senior at Rhode Island (the one common thread in Raptors pre-draft workouts this year has definitely been shooting). That’s Terrell’s biggest skill at this point, although he’s also a solid rebounder for a guard and at least a decent secondary playmaker, though that skill stagnated some over his four years (he got more careful with the ball, just never created more assists). Like everyone else in the late second to undrafted range, there’s some 3-and-D potential with the deep range, athleticism, and ability to defend either guard spot, but he may not have the size to ever play the wing regularly and he’ll need to show development with his secondary offensive skills. He definitely fits the mold of a 905 guard.
- Rex Kalamian is returning home and joining the Los Angeles Clippers coaching staff, according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Kalamian was Dwane Casey’s defensive lead the last few seasons after spending time all over the league the past two-plus decades. He’s created as a reputation as a player’s coach, forging strong relationships with stars at nearly every stop, including a close relationship with DeMar DeRozan. He was also a key figure in the young core’s Los Angeles-based offseason workout sessions. He received an interview for the Raptors’ head coaching position, and it seemed likely when Nick Nurse was hired that Kalamian would be out the door.
- Two of Casey, Nurse, Kalamian, and Jerry Stackhouse seemed likely to be gone this summer no matter what, and losing three strips the staff down to a pretty inexperienced group that has three seats to fill. Nurse now needs to find his two top assistants and a head coach for Raptors 905. Nurse has a wide network of coaching peers around the league, so it could go in a number of directions. Internally, keep an eye on Jama Mahlalela (Casey’s third assistant) and Patrick Mutombo (second row coach/player development) for potential role changes (whether on the front of the bench or with the 905). The pipe dream associate coach is probably Chris Finch, and long-time Nurse friend and recent Raptors scout Nate Bjorkgren seems a likely addition somewhere. Maybe Nick Collison wants to get into coaching!
- Over at The Athletic, I wrote about what the pre-draft process has been like for the Raptors without a draft pick.
- You’re not going to believe this, but the Raptors aren’t considered a strong enough favorite to land LeBron James to be officially on the board among the destination options. They sleep.
- As a reminder, the draft takes place on June 21, so the Raptors are running out of time here. There are no more draft workouts currently scheduled, and with this one the total is at 23 players, 21 of whom are still in the draft. That means the bulk of the lifting here has been done with in-season scouting, the combine, agency-led workouts, and various camps over the last month or two.
*A NOTE ON THIS PROCESS: Normally, this is one of the most fun times of the year, and this process note includes information on what we will and won’t post in terms of rumors and meetings and visits. To be honest, with no draft pick this time around, the process is going to lack some punch. We’ll still pass along the names that come in and work out, because they could pop up if the team acquires a pick later or is filling out the Summer League or Raptors 905 roster or whatever. It’s tough, without a pick, to get agents to bring high-end prospects in, though. There’s simply no upside for the prospect, and so the Raptors will probably have to do their diligence at agency camps/workouts and through their regular scouting process. The Raptors would like to get into the draft if they can, so these aren’t meaningless, they just might lack big names.